Construction Projects and Work Weekends

by Orren Whiddon
reprinted from the 2010 Wheel of The Year Calendar

    Editor's Note: This article was published in 2010 as an update to the Membership on our work weekends for that coming year, and gives a good feel our project list and the volunteer hands that make it all happen.
    We work together as a crew, with meals provided by and shared at the Farmhouse. Often a bit of a party after the sun goes down. If you would like to help, we would appreciate it. Check the schedule for latest info on the current years Work Weekends, and feel free to call the office with your questions.

The last of our hand milled trim
goes up in the Loft

If you look back to last year's Calendar you will see the long list of projects that we planned for the 2009 season, and we are tickled that so much has been achieved. With the Loft close to completion, and the shell of the new in-camp Dormitory up, we are now well on our way towards providing covered roof and heated space accommodation at Four Quarters. In fact so much has happened that a full length article with pictures seems in order. So...

We are very pleased that The Starvin’ Artist Kitchen has received its permanent “Eating and Drinking” licence from the PA Dept of Health! We are now fully approved with the kitchen, just as we became fully approved by the DEP for our central water system in 2008. It has been a long road since we began feeding people out of an old Army tent back in 1996! Much thanks to the volunteer kitchen staff who have maintained the high standards that this permit requires, and the support of Eric Stevens, our Bedford County Sanitarian.

And we have completed the two hot shower stalls in the Upper Shower House just in time for the SpiralHeart Reclaiming Summer Camp. The Oohh’s and Ahh’s from the shower house are most gratifying! We hope within a few years to add two more shower stalls and washer and dryer to the Upper Shower House. A little bit more each year and we get where we are goin’.


Teaching the fine art of milling 5,000 lineal feet of 10" tongue and groove

Down the hill at the Farmhouse, The Loft is nearing final completion, and as this is being written in early November, the staff are placing window trim, doors and baseboards throughout the Loft. All most all of the wood trim being used is locally harvested rough sawn White Pine and Tulip Poplar, which we then machine and mill right here in the shop into fi nished casings and baseboard trim stock. Very much a matter of localized economics and hands-on craftsmanship that we take great pride in. The eff ect of all the natural wood on this bright, open and airy interior space is simply wonderful. You just want to reach out and touch the woodwork!

Both bathrooms are now completely finished with a very pleasing full tile shower, all supplied with the same super low-fl ow toilets and on demand hot water heaters that we use in camp. We will be building and placing our own home built furniture in early 2010, with The Loft ready for full use in time for the coming camping season.

Building foundations in the April Mud

The Loft was designed and built to serve a number of purposes; as a place to hold winter time Moon Services, provide over night accommodation and perhaps even as a mini conference center. It is a very comfortable space, planned to provide 4 small bedrooms with double beds and 8 bunkbed berths. A small kitchenette, two toilets and a shower. Over the past two winters there has been no charge for overnights, given that it has been an ongoing construction zone! With its’ official opening in 2010 we will be announcing rooming rates and reservations, perhaps even elsewhere in this Calendar. Please give the office a call if you would like to reserve space. Stay tuned.

The big news, and the big construction project in camp, has been the new Dormitory. In planning for two years, we began construction of the foundation for the dorm as soon as the spring rains broke, which this year gave us a rather late and cold start in April. By the end of April we had completed the deck, raised the barn bent trusses and begun laying up the tongue and groove sheathing, which we were milling ourselves.

As was explained in last years Calendar, we are using a rather radical construction technique with the dorm, and it was very much a learn as you go process, as this technique of combining old style barn bent trusses with 2 inch thick tongue and groove sheathing was completely new... at least to us!

Stu and Doc go to work on the
joist system for the Dorm

We had promised the organizers of SpiralHeart that the dorm would be roofed in time for their week long retreat in late July, and we made that date, but just barely. And without the volunteer help from the Members of SpiralHeart we would not have made that date at all! Th is is a proper place to thank all the volunteers who helped raise the shell of the dorm, and especially the folks from SpiralHeart, who attended all three work weekends with their high energy help, as well as making significant financial donations towards building materials and the first batch of futons for the Dorm.

We will be two years finishing out the dorm, first up this coming spring will be staining the exterior and installing the doors and windows. That will allow the installation of the downstairs bunkbeds and partial use through the camping season. If time and money allow we will then move on to installing the second floor deck, staircase and loft bedrooms.

The pictures hardly do the interior space justice, with the soaring barn bents and 18 foot ceilings, we are sure you will find this to be a very inviting space, even in its partial finished condition. And it will be available for use this coming year. We are terribly proud of our handywork!

The Barn Bents are up, followed
by the tongue and groove walls

We plan on just one new project for the 2010 season, we have plenty to do finishing up what has already been started! We will begin the construction of a permanent Dining Pavilion to replace the current Big Top Tent nearby the Starvin’ Artist. Long term we want to see a permanently roofed structure that would also provide toilet facilities and prewash for dishes, with seating for 100 people. We might try to get the deck and roof in this year, then again, we may confine ourselves to just the deck. Time (and funding) will tell.




2010 Work Weekends
April 16-18, a New Moon Weekend
May 28-30, a Full Moon Weekend, also Memorial Day Weekend
July 9-11, a New Moon Weekend

The 2009 Work Weekends were a real success and in the case of the new dorm, absolutely essential to meeting our schedule. If you have never worked with a crew before, you will be amazed at the human relationships that are formed, and how you come to know another person with genuine and real depth. It is in fact a form of spiritual practice. We keep the work schedule loose, so people can lend a hand where they feel they are a best fit, and that has worked well.

A view of the "Kick Braces" supporting the second floor

The April weekend tends to be a make ready for the season as we erect tents, pavilions, check out the camps power and water systems, tune up the camp kitchen and tidy up generally. If you like to swing a hammer there will be plenty of that too. Breakfast and lunch for the volunteer crews is down at the Farmhouse, Saturday dinner is part of the Moon Service weekend.

The May weekend is likely to be very focused on the construction of the Dining Pavilion, and all willing hands will be welcome. Don’t fret if you don’t have construction experience, there are all kind of ways to help with a project of this size. Ask the folks who learned how to run the Logosol Mill back in the shops last year, it was a hoot! And since it is Memorial Day weekend as well as a Full Moon Service, we expect quite a few people on site. Helping with construction, or just chillin’ out, all are welcome.

The July weekend will be hard-core, as it is the last free weekend before SpiralHearts retreat, and we are sure to have a bushel basket of last minute jobs to see the Dorm and Dining Pavilion ready for use. Hard work, camaraderie and really good food! Join us if you dare!

The shell of the Dorm is up, with the roofing being laid down
No sooner roofed than put to use.
With a view of the basic supports for the second floor.




A small part of the volunteer crews that helped
to build the Dorm. Now for Dinner!